Kimberly Johnson Wants You to Have the Best Postpartum Experience Possible
Empowering women to get in touch with their birth and sexual energies
Kimberly Johnson is the founder of Magamama, a community and resource hub for new moms who want natural, empowering solutions for the physical pain and emotional changes that can accompany childbirth; and author of The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions & Restoring Your Vitality (Shambhala Publications), due out in November. Johnson, 42, lives in California with her nine-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Cecilia. She recently spoke to ESME’s Jaimie Seaton about her journey and how she juggles business, dating, and being a Solo Mom.
Q: Tell me a little about your background.
A: I was a longtime yoga teacher, and a Rolfer. Rolfing is a very specific way of looking at the body; the goal is better alignment and orientation to gravity. We look at a person’s posture and alignment, and with our hands, we organize the tissue so that the person has better access to movement. I’m also a practitioner of Somatic Experiencing, which is a type of therapy that works to restore the nervous system from trauma; and a Sexological Bodyworker, which is a type of bodywork that includes genitals in its scope. That means I touch genitals as a way for women to prepare for birth, to heal from birth trauma, to restore full pelvic floor function, and to establish healthy sexual boundaries.
Q: Are you a Solo Mom by choice?
A: No, my daughter was born in 2007, and the father was in the picture. I became a Solo Mom when she was nine months old.
Q: How did Magamama come about?
A: After I had my baby, my whole life changed. I became a doula about two years later. At that time, I was living in Brazil and teaching yoga, I had a yoga studio in my house, and I traveled around training yoga teachers. I had to reinvent myself. That was the point that I made my own website—when I realized this isn’t just my calling or my hobby anymore, this has to sustain a family. I moved back to the United States two years ago, and I stopped teaching yoga to focus on the new incarnation of my business.
Q: What is your mission with Magamama?
A: It’s to empower women and families so that they can have the very best postpartum period possible. In general, my life mission is to help women have full access to their life-force energy that comes through in birth and in sex.
In birth, it’s giving women tools—not just information, not just feeding their brain but allowing women to have embodied experiences that prepare them for birth. Any experience can be embodied, but few people are paying attention to what’s happening as it’s happening. I do internal touch work so that women can feel the difference between rectal and vaginal pressure, and find their pushing muscles so they know where they are before giving birth.
With sex, we have a life force that comes through sex, but we have all kinds of armoring and past histories that live in our body and that limit our access to all of the energy that’s available to us, so we live in a narrow stream of choices that don’t even feel like choices. Sex energy and birth energy are the same; what inhibits birth inhibits sex. It’s the inability to process a high amount of sensation, even if it’s good sensation.
Q: Tell me about running your business as a Solo Mom; do you have help?
A: I have an office where I see clients. My daughter is nine and a half and goes to school until 3:00 p.m., and then she walks to a dance class until 5:30. This is the first year I’ve had a full workday. I do everything on my own in terms of my business. I don’t have a team of people working for me. I live near my parents, so if I have a doula client about to give birth, we spend the night at my parents’ house in case I have to go out.
Q: Do you deal with a lot of Solo Moms?
A: A lot of Solo Moms find me. A lot of people can’t believe I’m doing what I’m doing by myself. I have zero support, financially or otherwise, from my daughter’s father. As Solo Moms, we need to cheer each other on. I have more Solo Moms as students (I teach courses on postpartum health for yoga teachers and trauma skills for birth workers) than I do as clients.
Q: What is the biggest concern you hear from new moms?
A: That they feel completely altered and different after they give birth, and they can’t get any help. When they ask for help, the doctor says everything is fine or offers them antidepressants. All of the physical changes, ranging from the shape of genitals to urinary and bladder function to feeling you are different and “wrong”—women aren’t offered any support for that.
There’s a lot of misinformation. A lot of women feel that they should be further along, regardless of how much time has passed since they gave birth. Everyone feels like they should be doing better than they are regarding how much energy they have, if they are ready for sex, their whole identity.
Q: Do you date?
A: Yes, that’s been a real interesting journey, but I do have a boyfriend. It was really hard in the beginning because I worked in the day and didn’t want to be away from my daughter at night. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get my erotic needs met and parent the way I wanted to. I didn’t want to be a Solo Mom who gave up my sexual and erotic life. It was really important to me not to give up that side of myself; I wanted that side to have a voice and be alive and nurtured.
I got creative. I got really specific about what I needed. Instead of thinking I wanted a relationship or sex or comfort, I asked myself if I was needing closeness, masculine energy, pleasure. Depending on what it was, I went in that direction. A lot of times it was being held and letting myself cry, letting down all the responsibilities, and the drive. I was holding all of the masculine and the feminine at the same time.
Q: What’s your best advice to Solo Moms who want to turn their passion into a business?
A: I recommend always taking care of the financial piece first, even keeping a day job while building the passion on weekends and off-hours. New passions can thrive when there is a feeling of safety and foundation underneath it. I am not saying never take risks, but I am saying be smart about getting out of survival mode, since we have to be there de facto a lot of the time, with other parts of solo parenting. There’s nothing glamorous about being broke doing what you love. One reason I decided not to self-publish my book was that I could not imagine managing another project. So I went with a publishing house to have that community of support.
Jaime Seaton has been a freelance journalist for more than 20 years. She is the divorced mother of two awesome teenagers and often writes about parenting, dating, and relationships. Her work has appeared in numerous publications worldwide, including the Guardian, the Establishment, Glamour, and the Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @JaimieSeaton.
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